On August 8th, President Bush attended the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. This was the last time that he would be visiting China as president. Looking back on Sino-US relations eight years ago, one realizes that in those eight years, a large change has occurred in Sino-US relations. Substantive changes have occurred in certain aspects of America’s China policy, and Sino-US relations have already entered a new age. This kind of transformation is both strategic and long-term.
Before Bush took office, he had criticized the Clinton-era China policy as excessively weak and had positioned Sino-US relations as one of ‘strategic competitors.’ Not long after Bush assumed the presidency, the ‘Plane Collision Incident’ caused Sino-US relations to fall into a tense state. At one point, Bush had classified China as the same as Iraq and Russia as one of America’s supposed three enemies. The 9/11 terrorist attacks became an unexpected turning point in Sino-US relations. For one thing, the incident caused the Bush government to shift its attention on foreign policy to anti-terrorism. For another thing, within five hours of 9/11, the Chinese national chairman at the time, Jiang Zemin, took the initiative in getting a message to Bush in which he condemned terrorism and expressed compassion and sympathy and thus brought the two nations’ strategic relations closer together. Afterwards, the opening in 2003 of six party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program and the opening of the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue at the end of 2006 caused bilateral relations to enter a period of stable development.